Please tell me you got the LOST reference in the title of this post?! No? Well, the reference isn’t really what matters here, it’s the meaning behind it that matters. This post is going to be completely different from everything else we usually share, but I think it’s something that needs to be said, and I hope it’s something that will incite change for the better among the Disney blogging community.
There are a couple of Disney sites (three immediately come to mind, but I’m not naming names in this post) who are quite honestly the worst. I realize this sounds terrible, but that’s really the best way to put it. THE WORST. The worst in terms of plagiarizing others’ content, starting Twitter wars over nothing, blocking, then unblocking, then blocking again, the bullying, the TAKING SCREENSHOTS AND TRASH-TALKING ABOUT OTHER BLOGS’ POSTS.
Here’s the thing though. We all know these sites are horrible. At best they provide their readers with clickbait or poorly paraphrased versions of others’ work (often with stolen uncredited images), but at worst they’re bringing this whole community down. As much as we all want to have readers, and followers, and engagement, and whatever else, at the end of the day blogging is about sharing your story with the world. Even a clickbait-y “news” site can share their personal story with the world by sharing an opinion here and there instead of bragging about their “insider” knowledge.
It’s like… hmm. Ok, so this post is going to be a bit all over the place–but stay with me here! I NEVER get into internet drama. Now that I’ve actually been using Twitter for this blog I’ve seen a lot more of it, but I usually never get involved. Until last week, when I just couldn’t take it anymore and I felt like I had to say something about one site in particular that is really creating enemies and bringing everyone down with them. So I did it. I was the one who “caused” drama. I pointed out their extremely loose understanding of the word “BREAKING,” and expressed my opinion that what they were sharing was clickbait.
While I admit that my comment was obviously what kicked off a bout of drama, I genuinely didn’t want or intend for it to go that way. I’ve been blogging for more than 10 years, and I’ve been freelancing for 7. I’ve seen the comments that come out when I write an article with a perfectly respectable title only to have an editor to change it into total clickbait. I’ve been tagged in the posts, I’ve been DMed, I’ve received a handful of death threats, because something I wrote was “clickbait.”
There is something you need to know about clickbait though. Writers don’t write clickbait. Editors write clickbait. A good writer will pour his or her heart and soul into a piece of work with no intention of steering a reader astray for the clicks. Editors however, want to get people on the site, or opening the newspaper, or buying the magazine, so they create clickbait. You could probably write a whole book about the ethics of all this, but for the purposes of this post let’s keep it at that– Writer’s don’t write clickbait. Editors write clickbait. But when the person who owns or manages the site is pushing the clickbait, it’s on them.
As a blogger, I try my best to respond to as many comments on my work as possible. I’m trying to tell my story, help others, and create a sense of community– all things that I cannot do if I ignore or lash out at the comments. As a freelancer however, I stay totally professional. I try not to read the comments when I know an article is going to be labeled against my will as “clickbait” or be controversial. If I do read the comments, I don’t respond to the negative ones, especially not on any of my personal accounts, and even more so when someone is personally attacking myself or my writing. It just isn’t worth it. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but as a freelancer it’s extremely unprofessional to argue back with a reader. On rare occasions, when a negative comment comes through that is genuinely trying to understand where a piece went wrong, or if someone goes out of my way to message me, I will respond.
I will not however respond with bullying. I believe that no one is perfect, and I don’t expect everyone to love my writing 100% of the time. I would never respond to a death threat, but I would certainly respond to a private message with a genuine interest about why I wrote something the way I did. Now, the response I got when I commented on the post from this Disney “news” site was far from professional.
I received a public response that not only belittled my opinion, but that also publicly attacked myself and my site. I’ve never spoken to this person before. I’ve always had issues with their writing, and I’ve heard less than appealing things about the ways they’ve treated others, but I’ve never dealt with it first hand. Although it was clear that this person wanted drama, I really didn’t want to argue. Had I not been immediately blocked and if I were ‘allowed’ to state more of my case, I would have simply said that I think it’s unfortunate that one of the “biggest sites” in the field is treating a smaller site this way. And that’s the point of this post…
“I’m sorry you feel that way” is my go-to response for people who just aren’t going to listen, or accept you for who you are, or just all around act like a decent human being. I’m sorry that some of these sites feel that it’s okay to bully those “beneath them.” I’m sorry that they don’t have enough respect for their own writing to create quality content for their readers. I’m really sorry that the rest of us are so involved in their drama. But most of all, I’m sorry that they’re bringing the rest of us down.
Every time these sites steal our photos or our words, and we don’t put an end to it, they’re bringing us all down. Every time they start a fight, or block us (then unblock us, then block us again), they’re bringing us all down. Every time they trick unsuspecting first-time Disney guests into thinking that they are an official Disney site (whether it be intentional or not), they’re bringing us all down. And last but certainly not least, every time we post about it even to describe their shortcomings, they’re getting more attention and probably more readers and followers from it, and they’re bringing us all down.
The only way we can stop these sites that are toxic to the fan community and misleading to readers is to stick together. Know another blog that posts quality content? Share their posts. Not with a follow loop, or an Instagram pod, or some bogus set-up that only exists to get you more followers. No. Be the reader. I’ve been trying this lately myself, and not only do I feel more confident in my own blogging and in finding my sense of community within this fandom, but I’ve stumbled across some blogs I never knew existed and I love them. I’m not sure this is getting me any more readers, but it’s helping them, and helping each other will benefit this whole community.
My interest in these other bloggers is helping them grow their communities. I’m organically sharing their posts as I naturally feel the need to do so. I’m following along with what they’re up to. I’m excited to see more. And most importantly, I’m understanding that we’re all here to tell a different story, and while I’d love for more people to read mine, I just can’t wait to learn more from some of the blogs I’ve started following.
Forget the drama, and forget about the handful of sites that are bringing the rest of us down. Find content that speaks to you, and when you fall in love with it, share it. Don’t be fearful that you’re helping the competition. If you’re working towards having a successful blog, you shouldn’t have any competition because no one else can tell your story…
“If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.”
P.S. If you’re new to Castle Party and want to learn more, you can start here. But more importantly, if you want to know more about which other Disney blogs I’ve been into lately, leave a note about it in the comments! I’m working on creating a page on this site for other Disney blogs I LOVE and I’ll respond to your comment once it’s up. And if you have another Disney blog you love reading, or you have your own blog, leave that in the comments too– I’d love to check it out!